Arriving at Wiston Lodge on Saturday morning there was a lot of snow, about 40cm of deep, powdery, fluffy snow. This was snowshoe conditions! It was cold too, perfectly still and the sky cloudless. Me and Isaac had turned up early to set up for a bushcraft course for a family from Edinburgh, mum – Jen – and her two daughters, Maisie and Rosie.
Wiston Lodge is near Tinto hill, just off the M74 and about an hour from Glasgow and Edinburgh. With lovely woodlands, visitor facilities and an outdoor learning ethos it’s a perfect place for a bushcraft course.
After an hour we were all set up. We’d cleared the snow, put up the tarp and hammock, hauled in a few logs to sit on and got a fire started.
I met up with Jen, Maisie and Rosie and led them through the deep snow to our winter camp, to warm up by the fire and have some hot chocolate.
Maisie and Rosie practiced making a fire using a fire steel, char cloth and tinder nest made from purple moor grass. Using birch bark and small sticks they got a small fire going in the kelly kettle and before long we had hot water on the boil.
For a morning snack we made Damper, twisting bread dough around a stick and cooking it by the fire. Once done, with butter and jam, they’re very tasty. Toasted marshmallows followed.
Next activity was shelter building. We made a frame using a long ridge pole locked together with two y-shaped bits of wood. More sticks were used to fill in the frame, before it was all covered with snow.
Other highlights of the day were cooking sausages on the fire, making a snowman and tug of war with some rope we made from grass.
At the end of our fun day we put out the fire, scattered the ashes, dismantled our camp and took care not to leave any trace.
Aspen Outdoors Ltd run bushcraft courses throughout the year. If you’d like to find out more, please get in touch.